Do you ever have random cravings for food? This happens to me all the time and while I’d like to give in to my stomach’s every whim, I rarely do–usually because my food fantasies revolve around elaborate feasts that would be entirely too time consuming to make before passing out from hunger. Thankfully my elaborate feast fantasies don’t happen all the time. The other day I had a very sensible, down-to-earth desire for a simple steamed fish.
Steamed fish and rice is total comfort food to me. One bite and it brings me back to countless nights of me, my mom, my dad and my brother sitting at our round kitchen table. My brother and I would be bickering about some non-consequential thing and my parents would be recapping their days to each other. Back then I wouldn’t touch the green onions or ginger, but the flaky white fish and soy sauce mixed in to fluffy rice was one of the few meals I’d eat without complaint.
Buying fresh fish might be a little daunting but most Asian grocery stores with a live tank will scale and gut your fish for you. As with all seafood fresh really is best, but if you don’t want to go with a whole fish, this recipe works just as well with any thick cut white fish filets.
If you’ve never had Chinese style steamed fish you should give it a go. Light, refreshing and oh-so simple, the flavour of the fish is clean, fresh and heightened by the ginger and green onions.
Chinese Steamed Fish Recipe
- 1 fresh, whole tilapia (about 1 pound)*
1 small knob of ginger, thinly julienned
3 stalks green onion, thinly julienned
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Place your steamer rack inside your wok. Add enough water to come to the base of the steamer, about 2 inches. Do not let the water come above the steamer rack. Cover the wok and bring to a boil.
While your water is coming to a boil, prepare your fish. Cut three slits on each side of the fish. Lay the fish down in a shallow dish. Pour the soy sauce and oil over the fish and top with half of your ginger and green onions.
Once the water has come to a boil it’s time to steam your fish. Wipe down the condensation that has built up on the inside of the cover. Place your dish on the steamer rack and cover. Turn the heat down to medium and steam for 12 minutes.**
Check to see if your fish is cooked by poking the fish near the top fin. If it flakes, the fish is cooked. Top with the remaining ginger and green onions. Taste and season accordingly with extra soy, sesame oil and salt, if desired. Serve with fluffy white rice.
*Any white fish will do for this recipe. I used pink tilapia because that’s what my supermarket had in the fish tank. Other types of fish you could use are: halibut, cod, sole, flounder, turbot or whatever fresh white fish you have access to.
**If you’re steaming filets they won’t take as long to cook, depending on the thickness of your filet. For filets 1 inch and thicker steam for about 10 minutes. For thinner filets, check at 7 minutes. If the fish flakes, it’s cooked.
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